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ORNL cooks up new pathway for biofuels from UCO and recovered tyres

A team of researchers led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the US have developed a novel new "inexpensive, environmentally benign" pathway to convert used cooking oil (UCO) into biofuel with carbon derived from recycled tyres.

Used cooking oil (UCO) can be converted into biofuel with carbon derived from recycled tires—a new method developed by an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led research team (image courtesy ORNL).

The study, led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the largest US Department of Energy (DOE) science and energy laboratory, together with collaborators Wake Forest University and Georgia Institute of Technology has recently been published in the journal Chemistry Select.

Entitled “Novel Acid Catalysts from Waste-Tire-Derived Carbon: Application in Waste–to-Biofuel Conversion“, the paper details how modified, recovered carbon with sulfuric acids, which is then mixed with free fatty acids in household vegetable oil to produce usable biofuel.

According to ORNL co-author Parans Paranthama, recovered carbon material derived from old rubber tyres provides a pathway for inexpensive, environmentally benign and high value-added waste tire-derived products—a step toward large-scale biofuel production.

In previous ORNL studies, carbon powders have proven useful in developing lithium-ion, sodium-ion and potassium-ion batteries and supercapacitors. The patent-pending, waste oil-to-biofuel conversion adds a new approach to waste tyre recycling initiatives.

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